What does it mean to flourish?
To flourish, is to grow or develop in a healthy and vigorous way, especially as a result of a particular environment. The end result of flourishing is bearing fruit. Did you know that our primary ‘job’ as a believer to be a fruit-bearer?
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be disciples.” (John 15:8)
Fruit is the outcome or evidence of the Holy Spirit’s INDWELLING and ACTIVITY in our lives.
Looking at John 15: 8 closely, notice:
- YOU, are to bear fruit, and to bear much fruit! This is every believer, not just strong Christians, missionaries or the pastors, but every believer is to bear fruit. There is no exception.
- Are we to only bear fruit at certain times of our lives or only bear a little? We are to bear MUCH! Our God is a God of abundance, and He means for there to be plentiful fruit in our lives. God makes it possible that even in our off seasons, we can still bear fruit.
- Bearing fruit PROVES you are disciple of God. It’s evidence! The fruit of the tree provides evidence of the nature of the tree. “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.” (Matt 7:17-18)
- Your fruit BRINGS GLORY to your heavenly Father. The AMP version says “My Father is glorified and honoured by this.” The fruitfulness of our lives is a worship to God, it honors Him in our lives. Just like a good young man would honor his parents, we honor God as His children.
The word ‘disciples’ brings to mind the disciples of Jesus and His instruction to them in Matt 28:19: “Go and make disciples of all nations,” (men and women).
The Fruit you produce by having an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord is meant for the WORLD, for the people who live in your community, for those who do life close to you and yours. You are to bear fruit, not just for yourself, but for others. That makes you the disciple.
We are all doing the internal heart work with Jesus, which is all about me and my heart, my hang ups and sins and my healing and restoration. As we do this internal work, we start to bear fruit in our personal lives. However, it goes beyond that, while the internal work is being done, fruit bearing is for giving out. To give out to the nations, the WORLD and to be his disciples in your own circle of influence.
Fruit Bearing is not for the tree – it’s for the world!
In nature we pick fruit and eat it. It nourishes us and strengthens us. God wants the same for the lost, broken, trapped, hungry, oppressed etc. He wants them to come to you, pick your fruit and eat it, so that they may see Jesus, be strengthened, encouraged, refreshed, uplifted, healed, restored, forgiven etc.
Spiritual fruit is described in scripture as character traits that are developed in us by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); a greater similarity to Christ in likeness (2 Cor 3:18); a greater ability to not conform to the world, but be transformed in our thinking (Rom 12:1-3); becoming more established in the knowledge of Scripture (2 Peter 1:12) and God’s love (Eph 3:17).
- Paul teaches about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians as being “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.” Can you see these in yourself?
- It includes demonstrating new attitudes we have previously discussed like “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Col 3:12) Attitudes that go the extra mile, bearing with others, forgiving and letting love cover a multitude of sins. This is also fruit.
- As the Spirit works in our lives, we develop the ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus, in ministering to the world. We become equipped with gifts and talents from Holy Spirit, to do the work He’s calling us to. Paul teaches that we ALL received gifts to use as the Spirit determines (1 Cor 12:11). There is one purpose in this: equipping:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:11-13)
Our fruit bearing is always for the benefit of others to the glory of God, it is part of being generous with your life.
- Read the context of John 15:8 by reading John 15:1-17. Make a note of every mention of spiritual fruit and what God says about it. What does God do to fruit tree branches that are not fruitful? What does God do to fruit tree branches that are fruitful? What do we need to do in order to bear much fruit? What has God called you to do in verse 16?
- Examine each of the passages that describe spiritual fruit above and list them. Examine your life over the last six months and consider times you have demonstrated these fruit in your life. How fruitful are you? Do you produce good quality fruit? Read “How’s that fruit?”
- Many believers are happy to see spiritual fruit demonstrated in their lives, content that they are performing well and are producing fruit. Have you ever considered that the spiritual fruit is for the benefit of others. How would your life change if you knew that the people consuming the fruit of your life would benefit and that it would contribute to the building up of people?
- “Mary, Mary how does your garden grow?” As we come to the end of this study, reflect on all the lessons and consider whether you have a new perspective and understanding of your own spiritual garden. Make a list of some of the insights you have gained. How are you going to ensure that you continue tending your spiritual garden?
Father help me to be a good tree that bears much good fruit. Fruit that is plentiful and juicy so that others may benefit from it. May my words and actions, my attitude and mindset be beneficial to others, so that they are refreshed and renewed in my company. May people feel strengthened, encouraged, accepted and loved when they are around me. Help me to focus on doing the internal work of restoration with the help of Your Spirit, so that I may become more fruitful, bearing more fruit and thereby showing me to be Your disciple and glorifying and honoring You in my life.
Next: This is the last in the 12 part “Flourish” study.
Previous: Doing the Work of the Season
How’s That Fruit?
Are You Making Progress?